Solution Partner Views
Above the Noise
Interest and investment in new technologies are driving altered patterns of technology evaluation and project prioritization, as well as system purchasing, implementation and utilization. Amidst all the talk of innovation, it is important for insurers to maintain focus on the fundamentals; to rise above the noise and ensure a quality product for the end user. Automated functional testing (AFT) may not have the sex appeal of insurtech, artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, and drones; however, it can be the difference between a successful, pain-free system implementation and a full-on failure.
Getting it Right the First Time
The term domino effect, whereby an initial action causes a chain reaction across contiguous objects, processes or systems, is widely recognized as having a negative connotation. When implementing new technology, the goal is to make certain the effect is a good one.
That said, it is critical that new technology implementations get it right the first time. The introduction of new product features, rules, code, interfaces, or system upgrades not only requires adequate testing to ensure the change was implemented correctly, but that the production environment will continue to run smoothly. For insurers, a comprehensive testing strategy must include both regression testing of existing processes and functional testing of new changes to verify everything still works and will work going forward. This level of testing is difficult to accomplish manually. Getting it right the first time often requires an AFT solution.
The implementation of an AFT solution typically requires a high degree of both business and technical knowledge. This dichotomy of required skills adds an element of unexpected complexity to any AFT project. Test scenarios must reflect the real world, insurance production environment in order to identify potential problem areas. However, automating the user entry and verification process can be fraught with unexpected pitfalls.
Business analysts typically know best what needs to be tested; however, these individuals are seldom equipped to address the technical challenges which can accompany the automation of complex test scenarios. On the other hand, technical analysts who understand the underpinnings of modern, web-based applications often don`t understand the business well enough to develop a comprehensive test suite that provides adequate test coverage. Thus, the resulting AFT scripts are typically simplistic or error prone, unless both resource types are assigned.
Lack of ROI
Unfortunately, many AFT projects do not achieve the expected return on investment (ROI) due to the time and cost of the overall implementation, lack of test coverage and, most significantly, maintenance issues. All of these factors are influenced by the architecture of the AFT solution, which determines not only the level of reusability, but the reliability of the solution as well.
As noted, the smallest system change can have a domino effect, which breaks multiple AFT scripts and impacts downstream systems or processes in the insurer`s production environment. And, the rate of change is anything but small in today`s marketplace. Agile development and insurtech`s fail-fast methodologies instigate change at a level that can make AFT maintenance a nightmare.
Redefining Automated Functional Testing
Recognizing the rapidly accelerating pace of change, there are ways to redefine AFT that incorporate and apply innovative design techniques along with the modern tools available today. This kind of redefinition can dramatically improve the ROI equation. Highly-efficient test scenarios should intuitively segregate the intricacies of the test automation from the test information, enabling the reuse of common modules across a wide spectrum of test scenarios without the need for a high degree of technical acumen. The result is faster development of credible test scenarios with fewer resources required and lower, ongoing maintenance costs.
In this way, it is possible to not only mitigate the factors that naturally reduce ROI, but new approaches can increase the potential return beyond what was originally expected. Developing a comprehensive suite of test scenarios usually takes considerable time and occurs incrementally. This is particularly true with enterprise insurance systems where there is a lot to test. The ability to deliver value earlier will increase the project`s overall ROI. It is no longer necessary to wait until the system is completely built, and today, automated testing utilities can be developed sooner to help with the manual testing effort typically required in the earlier stages of development.
The Safety Net
Incorporating an AFT solution into any technology implementation provides a powerful safety net by mitigating errors introduced by new development. Efficient and effective testing dramatically reduces the possibility of project failure when a change affects a large portion of an insurer`s production environment. By reducing the demand for testing resources and allowing broader test coverage, an effective AFT solution can improve the quality of the final product in production and save insurers from the pain of system implementation failure before it happens.